Pope Francis hospitalised with respiratory infection
Pope Francis will spend a few days in hospital to receive treatment for a respiratory infection.
The 86-year-old pontiff was taken to Gemelli hospital in Rome for tests after complaining of breathing difficulties in recent days, his spokesperson, Matteo Bruni, has announced.
The pope does not have COVID-19 but will require several days of therapy.
A statement about his health said: "The tests showed a respiratory infection (COVID-19 infection excluded) that will require some days of medical therapy.
"Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayers."
The Vatican initially said the check-up had been scheduled but Italian media questioned that and reported a TV interview on Wednesday (29.03.23) was cancelled.
President Joe Biden has expressed his concern for his dear "friend".
Ahead of an Oval Office meeting with Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez, he told reporters: "The Pope is ill now so say an extra prayer for him."
Earlier in the day, the pope appeared in good health as he attended his weekly audience at the Vatican, but could be seen grimacing as he got in and out of his car.
Francis had one of his lungs removed when he was young due to a respiratory infection and had part of his colon removed in 2021 as a result of diverculitis.
He said in January the latter condition had returned but he wasn't overly concerned, though he blamed it for him gaining weight.
He has also been using a wheelchair for over a year due to strained knee ligaments and a small fracture but has been seen walking with a cane more frequently in recent times.
The pop declined to have surgery on his knee because he didn't respond well to general anaesthetic when having his colon operation.